AutoMatters & More: Turkeys race each other – and a truck – at the San Diego County Fair

Turkey trot
Wild West Turkey Stampede Jan Wagner

In all my years I have never seen anything that compares with the Wild West Turkey Stampede at the San Diego County Fair.

Located in Family Funville, it is a marvelous show. The race organizers – an affable husband and wife team – are superb at warming up the appreciative crowds in the grandstands. Excited little children line the barrier that surrounds the track, eager to see the spectacle that is about to unfold before them.

We were shown a battered and battle-scarred, radio controlled, little red pickup truck. Very soon that very same little truck, with its bed filled with turkey feed, would be speeding around the track to entice the flock of turkeys to chase it.

Sadly, we were informed that this was not the first such truck that had been used and abused for this task (let’s have a respectful moment of silence, please). The missing letters at the end of the “Turkey Stampede” sticker on the truck’s windshield bore indisputable evidence of that.

First we were treated to a demonstration of the racing prowess of the Traxxis radio controlled truck (see and of its skilled driver – the husband of the duo. The truck popped a few wheelies as it sped around the track, spraying in its wake the soft, shredded material that covered the track.

Then the turkeys were released onto the track. Rather than remain in one place in preparation for their race, they scattered. Some made a beeline for the truck. They’d been to this rodeo before. They knew that the truck meant dinner, and they were hungry!

Then the race began and they were off! The ensuing scene was chaotic. Feathers flew as the turkeys ran, jumped and even spread their wings in attempts to fly in their frenzied pursuit of the truck and the tasty reward in its bed. At least one clever and experienced gobbler ran the opposite way around the track, heading the truck off at the pass.

Soon the turkeys had the truck surrounded. They mercilessly piled on, pecking at the feed.

The cheering crowd wanted more, so the truck accelerated away for another crazy lap around the track – with the same conclusion. And that, my friends, is the essence of the Wild West Turkey Stampede at the San Diego County Fair.

Sweet Treats
A mountain of sweet treats inside the Theme Exhibit building Jan Wagner

Elsewhere at the Fair, be sure to visit this year’s “How Sweet It Is” Theme Exhibit, with themed displays, entertainment and the most marvelous (and popular!), well stocked candy store. You will likely find many of your favorite sweets from your childhood.

Cocoa Cabana
The rooftop Cocoa Cabana speakeasy with lush foliage from Moon Valley Nurseries. Jan Wagner

At the adults-only Cocoa Cabana speakeasy (shhhhh --- it’s a secret!), have something to eat and drink while you rest and enjoy the view, from high above the grandstands, of the infield and family midway.

Fred corn
Fred, a 99-year-old U.S. Navy vet with his Fair ribbon & two husked ears of corn Jan Wagner

Whatever else you do, enter a contest and try to win a ribbon. It’s fun and easy to do. At the corn-husking contest on The Farm, I met the most amazing, 99-year-old U.S. Navy veteran. Fred told me fascinating stories about his life – from on a farm to during his long career in the U.S. Navy.

After easily defeating me, he showed me the correct way to quickly husk an ear of corn by grabbing two handfuls of the husk and pulling down from the top. Also, did you know that a fine strand of silk is necessary for each kernel of corn to grow?

Do not miss the exciting Motorsports at the Fair, through to closing day, the Fourth of July. For dates and specific events, check at and click on the Motorsports button.

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Copyright © 2018 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #546r1

Motorsports fair
What you can expect to see at this year’s Motorsports at the Fair Jan Wagner